As if being 6-foot-7 weren’t noticeable enough, Mariusz Wach has even more difficulty maintaining a low profile within the Polish community these days after knocking out Kevin McBride to win the World Boxing Council (WBC) International heavyweight title in July.
“People recognize me now when they see me outside of the ring,” Wach said. “The fans have been great. That fight gave me a lot of media publicity.
“That being said,” he added, “I have now become very busy, and I’m trying my hardest to keep control of my training as a fighter and maintain my relationship with my fans.”
Even with his newfound celebrity status, the undefeated heavyweight from Krakow (now fighting out of North Bergen, N.J.) remains as humble and focused as ever as he prepares for his latest challenge, a 12-round title defense Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011 against former world champion Oliver McCall in the main event of Jimmy Burchfield’s Classic Entertainment & Sports’ “November Reign” professional boxing show at the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Conn., presented in association with Global Boxing Promotions.
The 46-year-old McCall (56-11, 37 KOs) is known primarily for his signature win over world champion Lennox Lewis in 1994, but he’s still a force to be reckoned with in the heavyweight division with two notable wins in his last three fights, including a unanimous-decision victory over Damian Wills in August.
“With age comes experience,” Wach said. “Strength is something that cannot be taken lightly. Sometimes, older fighters may lose speed, but strength is always there.
“I’ve been studying McCall’s fights with my trainer, Juan DeLeon. After each fight, we study and work on new techniques that will help me prepare for the upcoming fight.”
After beating McBride, Wach (25-0, 13 KOs) is now one step closer to a potential showdown with either Wladimir or Vitali Klitschsko, the Ukrainian brothers who currently own all five recognized world titles in the heavyweight division.
“I knew going into that fight that it was going to be a big step in my career,” Wach said of his win over McBride. “I knew that it would be something to either make or break me as a fighter. I felt the pressure, but I was prepared for it.”
Considering his No. 9 ranking in the WBC, Wach could be on the cusp of a title fight against the 40-year-old Vitali, who has held the WBC belt since 2008 and recently defended his title against Wach’s countryman, Tomasz Adamek, in September. First, Wach must deal with McCall, a Chicago native who fought during the height of the Don King era when Americans ruled the heavyweight division and has never been knocked down as an amateur or professional.
McCall is chasing a similar dream, making one last run at reclaiming the world title he won in ’94 against Lewis. A win by McCall would make him the first two-time WBC International heavyweight champion since Sinan Simal Sam (2004 and 2006); ironically, McCall was the one who ended Sam’s second stint as international champion via unanimous decision in 2007.
“A victory would mean everything to me and my career,” Wach said. “A victory is exactly what I’m aiming for and I won’t settle for anything less. I am going into this fight confident that a win would bring me closer to my dream of facing Klitschko.”